2022 INTERNATIONAL LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR WINNER
"My images are about my interior, rather than a particular territory", explains the 2022 International Landscape Photographer of the Year, Benjamin Briones Grandi.
"My subjects are actually my own and the viewers' dreams, memories and emotions. In some cases, I just need one exposure, while at other times, I need to combine photographs, change perspective and play with colour. Sometimes, I shoot up to the sky and down close to my feet, other times I play with the time of the day, mixing different exposures in one frame.
"A straight photograph or a composite image is only an abstraction of reality. In my case, I take that abstraction close to the limits of photography, using all the tools I have at hand. I create a file in Photoshop using one or more raw files, then I export the .tiff and finish the retouching using Lightroom.
"It is a long process. I usually draw sketches of ideas, then go into the field, get back to the desktop, then go out again if something is missing or I need to reshoot the picture. It can take weeks or months to create each image. I let them rest, look at them for a while and then let them rest again for days. Finally, I know deep within me if the final result is a piece I’m happy with, so I scrutinise myself to find that answer. I enjoy each part of the process immensely."
Since he was a young boy, Benjamin remembers being passionate, obsessive and sensitive. "It was a powerful combination to create anything, really. Then in my teens, my family went through a rough time of suffering and reconciliation that left me highly sensitive to beauty, simplicity and delicacy.
"So in time, I explored different mediums to fulfil this need to create art. In 2016, my attention was on recording music and video, so I bought a camera for those purposes. Nevertheless, when I took my first photographs, I fell in love with the contemplative aspect that is enhanced when an image is still. A good composition can be stared at for hours and the mind completes whatever is hidden or undefined in the image. I think the still image will always have its place in the arts."
While equipment is important, it's the ideas that make a photograph - and a photographer. "When I was a child, I remember having the book Cosmos by Carl Sagan in my hands and looking at illustrations depicting speculative planets. I remember using those images to dream. Those moments really marked my way in life. I look for images that help us travel inside of us, which I think is the hardest journey as humans.
"Currently I’m influenced by paintings, books, my faith and my experiences. For instance, paintings by Tomás Sánchez and Denis Fremond are images I keep going back to. Photographers like Hengki Koentjoro, Michael Kenna and Erik Johansson have been huge influences and when I started photography, landscape photographers like Daniel Kordan really pushed me towards nature."
Yet despite these beginnings, Benjamin explains that he is not naturally drawn to outdoor sports and adventure. "I’m much more interested in the visual aspects of photography, although I find that landscapes are a sublime subject matter. I love the direct symbolism that can be found in each natural element and the highly evocative images that can be obtained from the landscape. Nature itself speaks a visual language, expressing truth and beauty. Photography puts me in contact with that, which makes me feel alive and grateful."
Benjamin was born and raised in Chile, which he says is a country with an extremely wide variety of landscapes. "From the most arid desert in the world to the gorgeous ice fields in the south, there are mountains, lakes, volcanoes and ocean all along. This was my 'palette' to create the images I submitted. For now, I haven’t felt the need to travel too far from home, though I would love to explore other countries in the future and see what I can obtain using some new palettes. Time will tell.”